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New Review of Information Behaviour Research

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Taking a discursive approach to information seeking research can allow researchers to move away from considering information seekers’ accounts as transparent and unproblematic representations their information behaviour or underlying cognitive and affective processes. This paper uses a constructivist discourse analytic approach to study the discursive functions performed by accounts of information seeking in a particular context – the ways that individuals use information-seeking stories to “position” themselves discursively. This paper analyses four modes of information practice (Active seeking, Active scanning, Everyday monitoring, Information seeking by proxy) present in participants’ accounts of connecting with information sources. Although the four modes represent varying levels of active engagement in information seeking, accounts of the four modes fulfilled the same discursive function of demonstrating the individual to be an autonomous actor, someone who is active, connected, attentive to the environment, alert to unexpected possibilities, and receptive to appropriate forms of information. Working from a constructivist discourse analytic approach allows the researcher to attend both to the characteristics of the information-seeking context (in this case, pregnancy) and to the researcher-participant interaction and the functions that accounts of information seeking perform within it. It is then possible to study the ways that accounts of information seeking may themselves take discursive action.

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